The Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP was genuinely interested in the quality of teaching here at Brooke Weston and asked plenty of questions during his recent tour. In addition to learning about the ethos of the school, he was told that work is differentiated at one of four levels, (basic, standard, advanced and extended) with students encouraged to stretch themselves in each subject area. He also spoke to students about their opinions of the school and their lessons.
Teacher Miss Pape said: ‘We were teaching a Year 7 Spanish carousel lesson with translation, dictation, reading and writing. The emphasis was on independent learning. Mr Gove spoke to a couple of students and asked about the aim of the translations. Jess told him that it helps them to write and extend their vocabulary and knowledge. He did seem impressed that we developed our own teaching materials here.’
Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Mrs Navarro-Marin said: ‘The students told him that we, as teachers, encourage them to aim high and go for the best level they can achieve. He was totally interested in the lesson and very personable. In his words the lesson was "brilliant and amazing".’
Mr Gove then made his way to the Science department where he saw a Year 12 chemistry lesson in action. Head of Science Paul Knight said: ‘He spoke to Molly Beeby and Gautham Kumar as they are both new to the Sixth Form. He wanted to know why they had chosen to come here. They said it was because of the excellent quality of the teaching and the standards that we have here and they both loved the subject.
‘Mr Gove wanted to know what the students were doing and the context of the practical. I explained that it fitted in with last week’s coursework and linked in with next week’s coursework and he liked the fact that it was a real life experiment. He wanted to know the chemistry behind it so I was explaining it and he remembered some of it from his school days and was genuinely interested. He is a nice man, told our students that they were a fantastic group and made some exceptionally complimentary comments about the standard of chemistry teaching that had seen.’
Samiul Hussain said: ‘He seemed a very nice man. He was talking about the experiment itself.’ Courtney Wilson added: ‘He seemed really interested in what we were doing.’
As he left Mr Gove made many positive comments: ‘I have been impressed by everything I have seen here at Brooke Weston today. I knew that the school was outstanding before I came here but I was very impressed by the foreign language teaching and the A-level chemistry class. It is an amazingly high level of teaching. The fact that the teachers have designed their own curriculum suggests to me that the teachers here own their school and also the children clearly are having an enjoyable time and are encouraged to be ambitious. I think that Corby is fortunate to have such a brilliant school.’
Mr Gove last visited the school in 2009 when he was Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. Since then there have been many developments, including the construction of the new Performing Arts department and the formation of the Brooke Weston Teaching School.
Afterwards Dr Andrew Campbell, CEO of the Brooke Weston Trust said: ‘I am delighted that staff and students had an opportunity to show the Secretary of State the quality of work that takes place at Brooke Weston Academy and, perhaps equally importantly, there was the opportunity for Trish to share some of the plans for future development of the school, including the excellent work of the Teaching School which continues to grow and the new plans for the Combined Cadet Force and other cross-Trust activities.’